I’ve decided that I am a woman with a strange kind of sensitivity.
My attempt to figure out how to describe my sensitivity began today when Nathan and I were loading up our small car with a bunch of boxes from the apartment. As I pushed open the door, bringing down the last box, my jacket caught onto the door handle. All the grip I had on the box was suddenly gone. Thunk. And the box didn’t just fall straight down – it also toppled over.
I immediately started tearing up and started crying not long after that. It could have been for any number of reasons.
I may have regressed to my childhood reaction when I did something wrong or accidentally broke something – a fear of being in trouble for doing so. But I knew it was just stuff and that it was by accident. Nathan wasn’t even bothered – he just gently picked everything up and threw it out for me.
I may have responded to the sentiment of the things that were now broken and could not be further of use. The glass dessert tray and the Pi dish I had decided to wrap and pack last minute shattered into pieces. The Pi dish was a previous Christmas gift for me from one of Nathan’s aunts, and I had only used it once to make my first ever pie from scratch. I was sad I wasn’t going to be able to make a pie on Pi day with my Pi pie dish. But I wasn’t as upset about the glass dessert tray – I had gotten that for probably two bucks at the Salvation Army.
I may have just been frustrated that I had decided to pack those things last minute and that I had to go and mess up the future plans I had for them. Maybe I was just responding to all of the above.
But I’ve always considered myself to be pretty sensitive.
I hated raising my hand in class growing up because I felt humiliated enough to cry whenever I got an answer wrong in front of everyone. I just learned how to hide it better as I got older, or just didn’t raise my hand unless I was absolutely sure I was right.
My dad often teased me – not in a make fun of me type of way – but I always took him too seriously and cried every time it happened. In those moments my dad would say, “When someone teases you, you have two choices – you can either ignore them, or learn to play along.” I learned to play along and got really good at getting a bit snarky and sarcastic, but I still haven’t mastered the art of taking criticism without feeling like I messed up big time.
I frequently cry when Nathan and I have a conflict – even the really small, dumb ones that I know aren’t really a big deal – simply because we’re having a conflict and I want the conflict to end but also know that it’s often unhealthy to check out of or avoid conflicts. Our friends who have witnessed some of these conflicts say we’re pretty good at handling them, but it baffles me because any conflict we have seems horrible because I’m just so not used to engaging in such frequent conflicts with someone, let alone a relationship I care deeply about.
On the other hand, I’m not very sensitive about other things. I’ve never really cried during any movies or tv shows (I’ve come close, though, I guess). I’ve never been moved to tears by a piece of music or literature. I’m not easily offended when someone commits a racial faux pas – by accident or on purpose – against me because I’m Chinese American.
So what kind of sensitive person responds to life in such ways? Me. I do. And I guess I’m okay with that. There are some days where I wish my heart was a thicker muscle, but at the same time I know it’s the same heart that helps me empathize naturally with people and extend compassion where it’s needed. And even still, there are times when my heart is not sensitive enough. Oh, what mysterious creatures God has created us to be!